Public Domain Publishing – Your Road to Riches?

Public domain publishing can be a very profitable business if you know what you are doing. The basics are not difficult to understand.

Although “PD publishing,” as insiders call it, has become something of an industry unto itself in recent years, there is still plenty of room for newcomers to get in and make serious money.

The great attraction of PD publishing is that anyone — and this means you or me — has free usage rights to millions of books and other works that are now in the public domain. Those other works even include movie clips, photographs and drawings, audio tracks, sheet music and much more.

How do you find works in the public domain that are sitting there waiting for you to grab and republish for profit? You could conduct an old-fashioned search of used bookstores and you might well be able to turn up many republishable goodies this way. Most PD publishers these days prefer to search online, and several cheap or free programs have been released that make this a breeze.

As a rule of thumb, anything published in the United States before 1923 is considered to be in the public domain. But some works published much more recently are in the public domain, too. Part of your job as a PD publisher is to learn as much as you can about copyright law and the rules relating to the public domain. There is lots of good information about this on the web, both free and in nominally priced e-books written by experts in this field.

Once you find a public-domain work that could be republished, you must ask yourself some questions: Would enough people be willing to pay to obtain a copy of this to make publishing it worth my while? Has this been republished already by other PD publishers, and if so, how well have they tapped the potential market (in other words, is there still money on the table that I could claim for myself)? What would be the best way to republish and distribute this particular item — in hardcopy, as an e-book, as a video, through brick-and-mortar bookstores, on CD or DVD, in instant-download form? Can I enhance it it some way — add my own photographs or commentary, for instance — and would this add value to it?

As you can see, the possibilities for making money via PD publishing are limited only by your imagination. This low risk, high profit business is open to anyone who will spend the time and energy to investigate both the laws of copyright and the methods people use to repackage and resell works from the public domain.

Becoming a public domain publisher takes some work, but it is still one of the easiest “low-entry-cost” ways to make real money either on the side or as a full-time income.

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H. Tim Sevets is books editor for the Solid Gold Info Writers Consortium, specializing in objective reviews of the top money-making reports sold over the Web. His expanded article on ways to make money as an online bookseller is available here:

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